You see something new, something that doesn’t jive with the images you’ve carefully collected in your mind, and you latch onto it. This desire to know and understand grabs a hold of you and you question this new thing, and pick it apart, until you have it satisfactorily figured out and can add it to your worldview lenses.
This is one of the ways we learn best: by being curious and questioning things. It’s a good thing.
But what happens when you come across some troubling new information? Something that no matter how much you try to figure it out, just doesn’t seem to fit with what you know to be true. It conflicts, like a blister on your toe rubbing against the strap of your sandal.
You turn this new piece of information over in your mind, again and again. It bothers you, and not because it’s a mystery you can’t figure out. Instead, it bothers you because it looks so clear and obvious…and yet it doesn’t fit.
Over the days, and perhaps even weeks, this nagging idea begins to call up new questions. If it doesn’t fit with the other ideas and truths I hold, yet it seems true…something has to go. What if I’ve been believing a lie all along? What if I’m wrong?
Now this thought rears its head as something much more terrifying than a question. It has a name: doubt.
What exactly is doubt? To put it simply, doubt is a feeling. Doubt is a feeling of uncertainty or hesitation. It is usually considered synonymous with questioning the truth of something.
That’s it. Really.
If doubt is just a feeling of uncertainty or asking questions, why does it seem so scary?
I know for me personally, doubt can feel terrifying because I have seen what’s happened to many people who doubted. They stepped into a downward spiral of silent, unanswered questions and hopelessness, and ended up walking away from all they had thought to be true. And these weren’t strangers I witnessed in this decline—they were friends. People I grew up with in church and in my homeschool groups. People I would never have expected to turn and walk away.
How did it happen? What was it about doubt that caused this heartache in their lives?
I believe it is the fact that doubt makes us feel ashamed, so we keep quiet about it. Those questions running endlessly through our minds stay there, never spoken aloud in the light of day. We let doubt confine us to the dark pit it is creating in our minds and hearts.
Breaking the silence
It’s important to realize that having doubts and questions doesn’t necessarily mean you have a weak faith. It means your faith has an opportunity to grow.